Friday 8th March saw the judges of the 2012 Man Booker Prize for Fiction reunited as they travelled to the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Wood (QEDJW) in Leicestershire to plant trees with the Woodland Trust.
In contrast to their meetings during last year’s prize, this gathering saw the group donning their wellington boots and picking up spades to plant 12 saplings in the heart of the National Forest. These trees will become a living commemoration of the ‘Booker Dozen’ – the 12 titles longlisted for the 2012 prize.
They will be the fifth judging panel to take part in the prize’s ongoing collaboration with the Woodland Trust, providing a symbolic gesture to compensate for the trees felled in order to produce the hundred-plus books submitted for the prize each year.
Times Literary Supplement Editor Sir Peter Stothard, who chaired the panel, was joined by: Dinah Birch, academic and literary critic; Amanda Foreman, historian, writer and broadcaster and Bharat Tandon, academic, writer and reviewer.
Actor Dan Stevens was unable to make the trip due to filming commitments in America, but sent a message of support to his fellow judges: ‘Beautiful trees make beautiful books. Having turned more pages than I care to remember last year it's good to take a moment to recognise the provenance of paper, to encourage more to be made sustainably in the hope that more great works of literature will be printed on it.’
Ion Trewin, Literary Director of the Man Booker Prizes, joined the four judges and added: ‘Symbolic they might be, but each year's grove of trees is living testimony to the Man Booker prize and the great fiction chosen annually by our judges.'
The QEDJW is the centrepiece of the Woodland Trust’s Jubilee Woods Project, which will see 6 million trees planted to create hundreds of woods across the UK. The 460 acre site will be planted with 300,000 trees to link existing wildlife habitats, which already provide a home for skylarks, spotted flycatchers and butterflies.
Laura Judson, Head of Regional Development at the Woodland Trust, said: ‘Our aim is to increase the amount of native of woodland in the UK and creating woods on a large scale really captures the public imagination. Our partnership with Man Booker helps us highlight the need to sustain our native woods.’